History of the process: from Dobris to Astana
Seventh Ministerial Conference "Environment For Europe"
Astana, Kazakhstan, 21-23 September 2011
The Seventh Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” is scheduled to take place in Astana (Kazakhstan) from 21 to 23 September 2011. The information on the preparatory process is available here.
Sixth Ministerial Conference "Environment For Europe"
Belgrade, Serbia, 10-12 October 2007
The Sixth Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" took place in Belgrade (Serbia) from 10 to 12 October 2007. Ministers and high-level officials from 51 UNECE member States and the European Commission, international organisations, NGOs and other stakeholders discussed progress achieved in the implementation of environmental policies since the Kiev Conference in 2003, capacity building and partnerships as well as the future of the "Environment for Europe" process.
The Ministerial Declaration (En, Fr, Ru) adopted by acclamation underlined that "the EfE process is a valuable response to the common intention of the UNECE member States to improve the environment throughout the region, contributing to sustainable development which may in turn contribute to poverty eradication, to improving the quality of life and to a safer world."
Ministers and Heads of delegation committed to
intensify efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to put in effect the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
A number of reports such as on the implementation of UNECE multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), on Critical issues in implementation of environmental policies highlighted by the UNECE EPR programme, and on Policies for a better environment: progress in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia were presented at the Conference.
Various initiatives including the Belgrade Initiative on regional cooperation of interested South-Eastern European countries in the field of climate change, the Central Asian initiative on Sustainable Development, initiative on Strategic Environmental Assessment, and the Guiding principles of effective environmental permitting systems were noted with interest by the Confenrece.
Ministers and Heads of delegation UNECE member States and of the European Commission endorsed and called for the adoption and full implementation of the UNECE Recommendations on environmental indicators and indicator-based assessments, and the Guidelines for enterprise monitoring for countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. They noted with appreciation the First assessment of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters in the UNECE region and invited the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention to prepare the second assessment of transboundary waters.
Two special sessions: a joint session of environment and education ministers from member States that adopted the UNECE Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development in Vilnius (March 2005), and other interested member States; and a roundtable of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and ministers from interested member States of the Council of Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS) and the European ECO-Forum were held.
A milestone decision was taken to reform the EfE process in order to ensure
that a future EfE process remains appropriate for, and fully aligned with, the needs of the UNECE region and the evolving political and economic landscape as well as the environmental priorities of the region.
The Conference concluded with the circulation of the Chair’s Summary (En, Fr, Ru), reflecting results of the discussions of the Ministers.
Further information on the Belgrade Conference, including a full list of documents (En, Fr, Ru), may be found here.
Fifth Ministerial Conference "Environment For Europe"
Kiev, Ukraine, 21-23
The Fifth Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" took place in Kiev (Ukraine) from 21 to 23 May 2003. It concluded
adoption of the Ministerial Declaration (En, Fr, Ru),
which underlined the importance of the
EfE process as a tool to promote environmental
protection and sustainable development
in the region, thus contributing to
wider peace and security. Environment
Ministers and Heads of delegation from
51 countries in the UNECE region and
the Representative of the European Commission
emphasized their common goals with respect
to the environment and highlighted their
common dedication to cooperating in
achieving high standards of environmental
During the Conference, three Protocols to Conventions of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe were adopted and opened for signature.
The Ministers and Heads of delegation also endorsed the Guidelines for Strengthening Compliance with and Implementation of MEAs in the UNECE region.
Governments of all seven countries of the Carpathian region adopted a Convention on Environment Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which was opened for signature on 22 May and signed by Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine.
The Kiev Conference adopted a groundbreaking Environment Strategy for Countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and applauded the efforts of the Central Asian States to develop the Central Asian Initiative on Environment, Water and Security, “Invitation to Partnership.”
Ministers and Heads of Delegation reaffirmed their support to the Environmental Performance Review Programme of UNECE and decided that the programme should continue. They called upon the European Environment Agency to prepare a fourth assessment report for the next ministerial conference, building on new partnerships, especially with UNECE and UNEP, and they expressed their support of the UNECE Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and its activities.
A number of other decisions were taken related to energy for sustainable development, water for sustainable development, biodiversity and education.
On the second day of the Conference, a special session between Ministers and environmental citizens’ organizations was held on “Environmental Policy Integration.” Three important issues were jointly addressed: letting the market work for the environment; agriculture as an example of sectoral policy integration; and overcoming institutional weaknesses that prevent integration.
Fourth Ministerial Conference "Environment For Europe"
Aarhus, Denmark, 23-25 June
Fourth Ministerial Conference "Environment
for Europe" took place in Aarhus
(Denmark) from 23 to 25 June 1998.
Fifty-two ECE member States were represented.
The Ministers and Heads of Delegation
adopted the Ministerial Declaration.
The following summary is provided
in the Report
of the Fourth Ministerial Conference (En, Fr, Ru).
"Europe's Environment: The Second
Assessment" identifying the main
areas of achievement and concern in
the state of the European environment
set the scene for the Conference.
Based on its findings, the Ministers
decided to strengthen support within
the "Environment for Europe" process for the newly independent
States and those countries of central
and eastern Europe that were not part
of the European Union's accession
The Ministerial Conference adopted
on Access to Information, Public Participation
in Decision-making and Access to Justice
in Environmental Matters. It was
signed by representatives of thirty-five
countries and the European Community.
The Ministers also adopted the Resolution
on Access to Information, Public Participation
in Decision-making and Access to Justice
in Environmental Matters.
An independent NGO session on "Strengthening
Participatory Democracy for Sustainable
Development" took place within
the framework of the Conference. Two
new Protocols to the Convention on
Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution,
on Heavy Metals and on Persistent
Organic Pollutants, were adopted and
signed by 33 countries and the European
The Ministers also adopted the Ministerial
Declaration on Long-range Transboundary
The Declaration on Persistent Organic
Pollutants was endorsed by representatives
of 18 countries and the European Community.
The Ministers endorsed the Pan-European
Strategy to Phase Out Leaded Petrol.
In addition, 32 countries signed the
Declaration on the Phase-out of Added
Lead in Petrol. The Ministers endorsed
the Resolution on Biological and Landscape
Diversity and agreed to strengthen
the process of integrating biodiversity
and landscape conservation objectives
into sectoral policies. Environmental
financing was considered to be one
of the most significant challenges
The Ministers agreed to facilitate
and support the implementation of
effective environmental management
in enterprises, and confirmed their
willingness to establish a dialogue
with the business community on a more
permanent footing. The Ministers also
endorsed the Policy Statement on Energy
Efficiency and welcomed the Guidelines
on Energy Conservation in Europe.
The Ministers decided that the "Environment
for Europe" process should continue
with the same institutional arrangements
and that the next ministerial conference
would take place in 2002, preferably
in a newly independent State. They
agreed that the decision on the host
country would be taken by the end
of 1998. The Ministerial
Declaration (En, Fr, Ru)
Third Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe"
Sofia, 23 - 25 October 1995
The Third Ministerial Conference "Environment
for Europe" was held in Sofia (Bulgaria),
from 23 to 25 October 1995. It was attended
by Ministers of Environment from 49
countries from Europe, North America
and Central Asia (the UN/ECE region)
and from Australia, Japan and Mexico.
A representative of the European Communities
The agenda of this Conference was already
decided upon at by the Ministers at
the second Conference in Lucerne, 1993,
to include a review of the implementation
of the Environmental Action Programme
for Central and Eastern Europe and the
further development of the Environmental
Programme for Europe. The Conference
Agenda also included subjects such as
industry and environment, finance, and
the setting of new priorities.
In the Ministerial Declaration (En, Fr, Ru),
adopted on 25 October 1995, the Ministers
reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation
in the field of environmental protection
in Europe, based on the principles decided
upon at the Second Conference in Lucerne.
They underlined the urgent need for
further integration of environmental
considerations into all sectorial policies,
so that economic growth takes place
in accordance with principles of sustainable
development. The key issues contained
in the declaration were as follows (the
main conclusions under each heading
can be found in the full text of the
(a) Implementation of the Environmental
Action Programme for central and
eastern Europe (EAP);
(b) Environmental financing in central
and eastern European countries;
(c) Business, industry and environment;
(d) Biological and landscape diversity;
(e) Environmental and nuclear issues;
(f) Environmental Programme for
(g) Public participation;
(h) Regional Environmental Centres,
(i) Environmental conventions.
As for future action, the Ministers
agreed that the "Environment for
Europe" process remains essential
as a political framework for cooperation
in the field of environmental protection
in Europe. The structure of the process
must enable all countries of the European
region to play a full and equal part
and take account of related activities
at the pan-European level, notably on
environment and health, environment
and transport, and sustainable management
of forests, in order to create synergies
and avoid duplication of efforts. The
following concrete actions were recommended:
The ECE Committee on Environmental
Policy should screen the Environmental
Programme for Europe in order to
make proposals for concrete priority
A regional Convention on Public
Participation should be developed
with appropriate involvement of
The EAP Task Force and the PPC should
continue their work;
The follow-up of the Pan-European
Biological and Landscape Diversity
Strategy should be pursued;The European Environment Agency
should carry out further work on
the pan-European state of the environment
The Ministers acknowledged the large
extent of work done to date in the framework
of the "Environment for Europe" process and the important role of the
Economic Commission for Europe in overseeing
it in close cooperation with relevant
agencies. In view of the preparations
for the fourth Conference, the Ministers
agreed to simplify and streamline this
complex process. They recommended that
a preparatory Ad Hoc Working Group of
Senior Officials be established at the
next meeting of the ECE Committee on
Environmental Policy. Furthermore, an
Executive Committee should be established
to prepare the work of this Working
Group, composed of three senior officials
from the central and eastern European
countries and three senior officials
from the western European countries.
Denmark's offer to host the next Conference
in 1998 was welcomed.
Second Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe"
Lucerne, 28 - 30 April 1993
The Second Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" was held in Lucerne (Switzerland),
in April 1993. It brought together
Ministers and senior officials from
45 European countries and from Canada,
Israel, Japan and the United States,
together with the European Commissioner
for Environment, and other international
The Declaration (En, Fr, Ru)
adopted by the Ministers on 30 April
1993 set out the political dimension
of what the Conference called the
Environment for Europe process, which
aimed at harmonizing environmental
quality and policies on the continent,
and to secure its peace, stability
and sustainable development.
The Lucerne Conference also endorsed
the broad strategy contained in the
Environmental Action Programme for
Central and Eastern Europe (EAP) and
set up a Task Force to implement the
Programme. The Work Programme of the
Task Force consists of four core activities:
helping all central and eastern European
countries to develop their own national
environmental action plans (NEAPs);
running training programmes; involving
the private sector; and improving
the management of priority conservation
areas. Furthermore the Conference
decided to establish a Project Preparation
Committee to focus on environmental
investments as a networking mechanism
to improve coordination between international
financial institutions and donors
wanting to invest in environmental
protection in central and eastern
The Lucerne Conference also endorsed
the ECE report on Elements for a Long-term
Environmental Programme for Europe.
This identified seven elements as
important policy tools for attaining
common high standards, technology
cooperation; integrated pollution
prevention and control; economic instruments;
national environmental performance
reviews; environmental information;
public participation; and international
Furthermore, the Conference endorsed
the Report on International Legal
Instruments of 2nd April 1993 . This
report called for effective monitoring
as well as improvement of the implementation
of, and compliance with, international
legal instruments in the field of
Finally, the Lucerne Conference welcomed
the initiative of the Council of Europe
to declare 1995 European Nature Conservation
Ministerial Conference "Environment
Dobris Castle, 21 - 23 June 1991
The First Ministerial Conference,
within the "Environment for Europe" process was held in 1991 at Dobris
Castle in the then Czechoslovakia.
Environment Ministers from 34 European
countries, the United States, Brazil,
Japan, various UN bodies, governmental
and non-governmental organizations
and institutions were present. The
Commissioner for the Environment of
the Commission of the European Communities
were also present at the Conference.
The conference discussed ways of strengthening
cooperation to protect and improve
the environment, and of long term
strategies toward an environmental
programme for Europe.
A set of basic guidelines for a Pan-European
cooperation strategy was laid down.
They include: need for intensified
cooperation, introduction of ecological
aspects in the process of transition
of economies in central and eastern
Europe; promotion of environmental
considerations by financial and economic
assistance; assistance to improve
environment-related health conditions;
and finally that each country shall
bear responsibility for global environmental
problems. The discussions resulted
in a set of Conclusions of the Conference,
in which the Ministers and the Commissioner
addressed several issues of great
importance to the further development
of the "Environment for Europe"
process. Furthermore, they called
on the Commission of European Communities
to prepare in cooperation with UN/ECE,
a report describing the state of the
environment in Europe (the later "Europe's
Environment: the Dobris Assessment" of 1995). The need to develop an environmental
programme for Europe in the light
of this report was underlined. The
programme would serve as the framework
to improve coordination of national
and international efforts in Europe,
though focusing on central and eastern
of the Dobris Conference)